Rugby is one of the toughest sports in the world.
But how much does it pay?
In this article, we answer ‘how much do rugby players make?’ in different stages of their careers and who the most paid rugby player in the world is.
Let’s dive in.
How Much Do Rugby Players Make?
Rugby is one of the top 10 sports in the UK, but not nearly as popular as football.
As a result, professional rugby players earn much less than footballers, despite risking far worse injuries on the field.
So, how much does a rugby league player earn in the UK?
An average rugby player salary in the Gallagher Premiership Rugby is between £100,000 to £150,000 in a year, while the highest earners can make up to around £500,000- £800,000 per year.
At the cusp of their professional careers, Academy players get paid around £15,000- £25,000 annually and if they make the first team squad, their salaries bump up to £40,000- £100,000 per year.
For comparison, the average wage of a footballer who plays in the Premier League is a little over £60,000 a week, or more than 3 million a year. (Read about the Premier League wage bills of the highest-paid football teams here.)
Rugby player’s wages per week for the highest-paid rugby players would work out to around £2,884.62.
Here’s a breakdown of how much they earn:
|Player category||Weekly wage*||Monthly salary*||Annual salary*|
|Senior squad (low end)||£833-£2,083||£3,333-£8,333||£40,000-£100,000|
|Senior squad (medium end)||£2,083-£3,125||£8,333-£12,500||£100,000-£150,000|
|Senior squad (high end)||£3,125-£8,333||£12,500-£33,333||£150,000-£400,000|
|Marquee player plus England **||£12,083-£20,835||£48,333-£83,340||£580,000-£1,000,080|
|Championship (low end)||£208-£625||£833-£2,500||£10,000-£30,000|
|Championship (medium end)||£625-£1250||£2,500-£5,000||£30,000-£60,000|
|Championship (high end)||£1250-£1,875||£5,000-£7,500||£60,000-£90,000|
*All numbers refer to premiership players, except for those labelled as ‘Championship’, which refers to players who play in second tiers.
** ‘Marquee player plus England’ refers to players who play for the English Rugby team. They can earn up to £180,000 in a year if they appear in the Six Nations Championship and four autumn international games.
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How Do Professional Rugby Players Get Paid?
The answer to the question ‘how much do rugby players earn in a year in total?’ can be difficult to gauge because professional rugby players have multiple streams of income.
They earn a salary from clubs and get bonuses for winning, but they also make money from endorsements and international games, among other things.
- Monthly wages: They get paid for being on the squad and playing for a club.
- Bonuses for wins: They earn bonuses for winning games, trophies, etc.
- Image rights: They get paid a percentage of the sale of their images associated with their club.
- Endorsements: Some rugby players secure brand deals through their clubs.
- Playing International Test Rugby: They earn extra for appearing in international test matches against other countries.
- Playing for the British & Irish Lions: They can get paid if they make the British & Irish Lions rugby union team.
- Playing for the Barbarians: They earn extra for being invited to play for either one of the two rugby union teams of the Barbarian Football Club.
- Termination payments: Teams pay players severance if are let go while still under contract.
Who Is the Highest Paid Rugby Player in the World?
The highest-paid rugby player in the work is currently South African rugby player Handre Pollard, who’s paid a whopping £1.52 million in a year.
Pollard, who currently plays for the South Africa national team and Leicester Tigers in England’s Premiership Rugby as a fly-half, got a salary bump after he took his team to the World Cup final, which they won.
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On average, rugby players earn anywhere between £15,000 and £150,000 in a year, though stars in the sport get paid much more.
Although professional rugby players do not earn as much as their football counterparts, they can still make decent money once they enter the first-team squad.
Are rugby players paid well?
That depends on what league they play in and how good their team is. If you’re wondering ‘how much does a professional rugby player make?’ they start earning upwards of £40,000 after they make the first team squad, players. Only a handful of top players in the rugby world earn close to or over a million pounds in a year.
Who is the richest rugby player in 2021?
Professional Irish rugby player Simon McDowell is widely considered to be the richest rugby player, with an estimated net worth of around £47 million. He had a short rugby career during the 1980s before a knee injury forced him to retire in 1990.
What is the highest-paid rugby position?
Fly-halves are the highest-paid rugby players. Top teams often pay their fly-halves more than £400,000 per year. A 2021 report found that the average income of fly-halves in Premiership Rugby is around £175,679 per year.
How much do rugby players make?
Rugby players can start earning between £40,000 to £100,000 per year once they make the first team squad. They typically £100,000- £150,000 when they play in the Gallagher Premiership Rugby.